Age-Related Attributions of Experienced Changes in Life: Origins and Implications

Klaus Rothermund, Maria Clara Pinheiro de Paula Couto, Helene H. Fung, Sylvie Graf, Thomas M. Hess, Shyhnan Liou, Jana Nikitin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

OBJECTIVES: Attributing life changes to age represents a core marker of the subjective experience of aging. The aims of our study were to investigate views on aging (VA) as origins of age-related attributions of life changes and to investigate the implications of these age-related attributions for personal control (PC) and life satisfaction (LS). METHODS: Life changes and the attribution of life changes to age were independently assessed on a large international sample of older adults (N = 2,900; age range 40-90 years) from the Ageing as Future project. The valence of VA, PC, and LS were also assessed to investigate possible determinants (VA) and consequences (PC and LS) of age-related attributions of life changes. RESULTS: Attributions to age were shown to depend on the valence of experienced life changes, with more negative changes being linked to more age-related attributions. This relation was moderated by the valence of personally held VA, with more negative VA amplifying the relation between negative life changes and age-related attributions. Age-related attributions predicted reduced PC and lower LS and were found to exacerbate the effects of negative life changes on LS, especially for the older cohorts of our sample. DISCUSSION: Our findings help to better understand what determines age-related attributions of life changes and highlight the negative consequences of attributing them to aging. Age-related attributions of change are a major factor that worsens the subjective aging experience. Methodologically, our study emphasizes the necessity to separately assess changes and their attributions to age.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)881-893
Number of pages13
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Volume76
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Apr 23

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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